Negotiations avoid controversial Greater Vernon preferential recreation pricing system | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Negotiations avoid controversial Greater Vernon preferential recreation pricing system

Image Credit: City of Vernon

The City of Vernon, District of Coldstream and two electoral areas that together make up Greater Vernon have come to an agreement on the controversial recreation fee for service proposal.

In October, politicians in Coldstream and RDNO Electoral Areas B and C, expressed their disappointment with Vernon’s plan to implement a two-tiered payment system for recreational services.

The previously proposed system would have given Vernon residents a 50% discount for all posted recreation admission and rental rates, a 25% discount for registered programs. While other municipalities and regional district electoral areas would have to enter into a fee-for-service agreement with the City of Vernon to provide their citizens with the same benefits as Vernon residents.

READ MORE: City council approves preferential recreation pricing system for Vernon residents

Under the new fee for service agreement, Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C will contribute to the operational funding for recreation services within the City of Vernon, as well as the Lavington Pool.

According to a joint press release issued today, Dec. 1, the new agreement will ensure residents of Coldstream and the two electoral areas receive the same user rates as the residents of Vernon.

They will also continue to have equal access to recreation facilities, services and early program registration.

“The District of Coldstream is pleased to sign as a party to this agreement, after some long hard fought negotiations,” Coldstream Mayor Ruth Hoyte, said in a press release. “Not only does this agreement provide a fee for service, but access for our residents. It also further defines the relationship between the parties. For sure, we can state that we can find common ground which is mutually beneficial for all. "

Mayor Hoyte had previously said she was hopeful the two regions could “come to some sort of terms.”

READ MORE: Neighbouring communities not happy with Vernon's move to new pricing system for recreation

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming said in the release “it's a pleasure to continue to share the cost for, and provisions of, recreation services in Greater Vernon.”

Vernon Recreation Services will be moving to a two-tiered pricing model on January 1, 2024. In the meantime, the city is inviting any communities interested in participating in recreation services at the same level as Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C, to establish a fee for service agreement.

The base funding for operating Vernon Recreation Services for 2024 is $4,247,665. Under the new agreement, Coldstream will contribute $722,103, Area B $369,547 and Area C $365,299.

“I am pleased to have the recreation agreement with the City of Vernon concluded,” RDNO Electoral Area B director Bob Fleming said in the release. “I believe it is good for the residents of Electoral Area B, as well as for all the other residents of Greater Vernon.”

The fee for service agreement with continue for three years until Dec. 31, 2026. After that, there will be an opportunity to negotiate for future terms.

"Having grown up in Greater Vernon and participated in athletics my whole life, I am aware of the importance of recreation for everyone,” RDNO Electoral Area C director, Amanda Shatzko said in the release. “We are proud to work with our neighbours to provide equal access and opportunity to recreation."

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